P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


State pledges Trust land to fulfil CM’s promise
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 12
The cash-strapped state government has adopted a unique way to fulfill Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s commitment to the people of Amritsar to revamp the Holy City by giving a grant of Rs 250 crore.

It has pledged some Improvement Trust prime land to PUDA for arranging Rs 100-crore loan.

Former Mayor Sunil Dutt has criticised this government move with a view to allotting the funds (Rs 100 crores) to Municipal Corporation of Amritsar. He said it was unfortunate that the Chief Minister had resorted to sell the city’ own land just to fulfill his promise.

Even as the CM announced on October 19 to release Rs 100 crore out of Rs 250 crore within a week for the overall development of the city, the state government has decided to pledge the land, meant for developing a large city centre, including hotel and multiplex etc on the international airport road.

After meeting the local MLAs and MPs on October 19, the Chief Minister had announced a Rs 250-crore master plan for Amritsar. He had promised that the project to revamp the city would be completed within six months.

He had also stated that the services of world-class companies were being sought for a planned road connectivity, potable water, sewerage and uninterrupted power supply in the city.

A vision paper on Amritsar, which would provide jobs to 2,000 youths, brainchild of BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, was also presented.

Interestingly, Badal had said that Rs 250-crore plan for the city was in addition to the Rs 3150-crore development plan approved under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewable Mission (JNURM).

The state government had found itself in fix when local Member Parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu had inserted advertisements in leading newspapers with headlines, “Sri Amritsar Sahib says thank you for 100 crore” to mark the birthday of the Chief Minister.

After this, the state government felt pressurised to find some way to arrange for the promised funds.

A resolution of Improvement Trust, passed on December 6 reads, “The Principal Secretary local government and Navjot Singh Sidhu held a meeting on December 10 at Ludhiana where it was decided to pledge land, belonging to Improvement Trust, with a view to arrange Rs 100 crore for repairing the roads of Amritsar City. It was decided to give the land to PUDA, which costs about Rs 350 crore. The second meeting decided to give six acres of land to PUDA, which is worth Rs 94.51 crore as per the rates fixed by the district collector.”

Meanwhile, PUDA decided, in principle, to give Rs 100 crore to the Amritsar Municipal Corporation after getting the nod from the Chief Minister.

The state government would hand over the cheque of Rs 100 crore to MP Navjot Sidhu and the Mayor of Amritsar Municipal Corporation on December 15.


Opposition to Punjab Bandh
Many SAD (A) leaders arrested
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
The Punjab police today arrested many leaders of the SAD (Amritsar) across
the state.

Police raids at the homes of party workers were carried out when the top leadership of the party was presenting a memorandum to the Governor at Chandigarh seeking government intervention to prevent Punjab bandh on December 14.

The call for the bandh has been given by the Shiv Sena and the RSS in protest against the installation of a portrait of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale at the Sikh Museum in Amritsar.

Speaking to The Tribune from an undisclosed location, the general secretary of the party, Prof Ram Singh, said the police had raided his house in Amritsar while he was away to Chandigarh.

The police also raided the homes of party president Simranjit Singh Mann and many other functionaries. He said the raids were conducted in Sangrur, Amritsar, Fatehgarh Sahib and several other locations.

In Gurdaspur, the police detained the father of district president of the party Sawinder Tajampur when they could not find the latter.

In a typical Punjab police style of functioning and in utter disregard to law, the police left a message for Tajampur saying that he should present himself at the police station if he wanted his father released, Prof Ram Singh said.

Terming it “double standards” and “murder of democracy” by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the general secretary said Badal approved the unveiling of the portrait by the SGPC and now he was facilitating the Shiv Sena to protest against the move by arresting the SAD (Amritsar) workers, who had announced to hold a peaceful protest march to oppose the bandh.

He said the party was determined to hold a peaceful march at all district headquarters despite all government restrictions.

Earlier in the day, the party leadership, led by Mann, submitted a memorandum to the Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), protesting the government’s move to prevent their peaceful opposition of the band call.


Shiv Sena chief held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 12
Nearly 12 Shiv Sena (Hindustan) activists allegedly burnt photograph and an ‘effigy’ of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale on the Rajpura road here today.

SSP S.K. Asthana however, claimed only photograph of Bhindranwale was burnt and “not his effigy.”

Sena workers converged near ‘Hanuman Mandir’ on the Rajpura road and allegedly burnt an “effigy “of Bhindranwale.

They came there at 2.30 p.m. with their faces covered, burnt the effigy. None of them could be arrested till late in the night even as the police has registered a case against them under Section 153-A of the IPC.

Certain organisations are opposing the installation of Bhindranwale’s portrait in the Sikh museum at Amritsar and the SAD(A) was justifying it.

Meanwhile, to foil the December 14 ‘Punjab bandh’ of the Shiv Sena (Hindustan) the police made preventive arrest of the organisation chief Pawan Kumar Gupta .

Earlier, in the afternoon commotion gripped the city when heavy police force was deployed on routes leading to houses of Shiv Sena and SAD (A) workers and leaders.

The Shiv Sena (Hindustan) leaders who, were arrested along with Pawan Kumar Gupta included, Inderjit Dhiman, Sudhir Kaushik, Bans Raj, Mintoo Singla, and Rajiv Kumar Joni.

Meanwhile, Gagandip Singh Gogi, a resident of Guru Nanak Nagar here was arrested in Bhindranwale effigy case and has identified two Shiv Sena (Hindustan) leaders Harish Singla and Rakesh Atwal in the case.


Bandh call: Flag march by police
Our Correspondent

Nabha, December 12
The police today organised a flag march in the town to boost morale of the residents.

It cautioned against any misadventure during the state bandh call given by the Shiv Sena in protest of the installation of portrait of Bhindranwale in the Sikh Museum at Harmandar Sahib.

Almost 150 jawans and officers of the police led by SHO Kotwali Gurvinder Singh Ball and SHO Sadar Bindu Bala led the flag march in the town.

The SHO Kotwali said the march was a warning to the disruptive forces. He said nobody would be allowed to disturb peace in the area.

The police has arrested six persons, four of the Shiv Sena and two of the Akali Dal Mann to prevent any untoward incident during the bandh on Dcember 14.


SAD office opens tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
The Shiromani Akali Dal’s new office in Sector 28 here will be opened formally on December 14. The complex will be formally inaugurated after an ardas at the end of akhand path which started here this morning.

The five Sikh head priests will represent the religious stream while Sukhbir Badal will speak for the SAD at the main function.

The SAD had always believed in bringing about a synthesis between the age-old values and traditions of the Panth and the state on the one hand and the vision of a brave new world for the enterprising people of Punjab on the other, said Sukhbir Badal, working president of the SAD.

The Punjab government will be represented by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, SGPC by its chief Avtar Singh and the BJP by Prof Rajinder Bhandari as the main speakers.

The new office creates an ambience of rich and proud political heritage of Punjab and of the party complete with tools of the state-of-the art modern technology.

It has sophisticated acoustics, plasma TVs in all rooms and a conference hall with advanced apparatus for computer presentations.

The walls of the complex have imposing and evocative pictures from Akali movements and other major historical landmarks in Punjab’s history since 1920, the year party was formed.

Large portraits of Akali stalwarts like Master Tara Singh, Sant Fateh Singh, Sant Harchand Singh Longowal and Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra adorn the lobby that tails into the main conference hall.

Pictures of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani, George Fernandes, Chander Shekhar, Gayatri Devi, Karunannidhi and Farooq Abdullah during their days of association with Akali morchas were also being readied for display.

Vijay Laxami Pandit, who opposed Indira Gandhi on Emergency will also find a place in the hall of fame. Ironically, she will be the only member of the Nehru-Gandhi household to find a place in the SAD office.


Cong to oppose prohibitory orders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
The Punjab unit of the Congress has flayed the prohibitory orders, imposed under Section 144 CrPC, in some districts to prevent the Congress party from lodging protest against the anti-people policies of the SAD-BJP government in Punjab.

The Congress was planning dharnas and rallies at district headquarters to protest the anti-people policies of the state government.

Terming it unfortunate, a spokesman of the Punjab Congress Jagmohan Singh Kang in a statement issued here today claimed that this action on the part of the government reflected the frustration of the ruling alliance in view of the unprecedented support of the masses for this programme of the Congress.

Kang further added further that holding peaceful demonstration and rallies to mark protest against the policies of the government was their democratic right and Congressmen would not bow to the oppressive tactics of the ruling party.

He said that Punjab Congress President and Leader of the Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal was the target of prohibitory orders issued in Patiala, where she was to lead the statewide stir. “The party will stage peaceful dharnas and protest rallies,” Kang said.


Structures along border
BSF expresses concern to Rangers
Tribune News Service

Attari, December 12
Construction of defence structures along the international border, drug trafficking and inadvertent border crossings remained the core issues at the quarterly meeting between the BSF and the Pakistani Rangers held at the Attari Joint Check Post today.

The10-member Pakistanidelegation, led by Brig M. Qaiser Khan Tareen, Deputy Director-General of Pakistan Rangers (Punjab), crossed over to this side of the border at 9.30 am and interacted with the Indian delegation headed by Deputy Inspector-General of the BSF G.S. Virk.

DIG Virk, along with representatives of the Narcotics Control Bureau, expressed their concern before the Pakistani force on the issue of construction of defence structures and illegal drug trafficking.

Though this was the first meeting after the imposition of emergency in Pakistan, both sides assured each other of full cooperation and to work for sorting out issues at the field commander level amicably and promptly.

Talking to mediapersons, Brigadier Tareen said as most of the villages on the Pakistani side were situated near International Border, the villagers inadvertently crossed to the Indian side.

He said though they had launched a massive programmes to educate villagers in this regard, still there were some deaf and dumb people who crossed the line.


Caste bias charges against GND varsity dept head
Prof backs woman colleague
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 12
A senior professor in the department of commerce, Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) today corroborated the caste bias charges levelled by a woman programmer against the head of the department Dr Amarjit Singh Sidhu.

In a letter to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jai Rup Singh, the senior professor, Dr G.S. Bhalla said he was witness to the incident in which the HoD had discriminated against the complainant.

She has already moved a representation to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal against the HoD to probe into her allegations and sought his intervention to save her honour.

Narrating the incident he said that Dr Sidhu had categorically told her that she was aspiring for much more than what she deserved because of her being from the Scheduled Castes.

The woman programmer in her complaint to the CM had alleged that right from the day she had joined the department she had been told to work from the storeroom, which did not behove the status of class-A officer.

She alleged that that when she demanded necessary infrastructure for a proper office, the HoD humiliated her and said he knew under what category she had been appointed in the university and knew the calibre of the people like her.

However, Dr Sidhu had refuted the allegations and claimed he had always been professional in his approach. Moreover, there were other members from the Scheduled Castes in the department who held him in high esteem because he always kept himself above caste, creed and religion.

He said that he was in the selection committee when the said programmer was selected and there was no reason why he would discriminate against her. He alleged that the complainant was possibly trying to hide her own mistakes by making false complaint against him.

The complainant had also alleged that after this incident the HoD again did not send her name to be published in the prospectus and telephone directory of the university for 2006 due to his prejudice against her, which clearly showed that Dr Sidhu could not tolerate her presence being a candidate of Scheduled caste category.

She further alleged that same thing happened this year, as again Dr Sidhu did not send her name to be published in telephone directory. However, she was able to get her name published in the directory on her own, she added.

The programmer in her complaint to the CM also alleged that she had earlier complained to the HoD against a Junior Research Fellow for misbehaving with her but instead of taking any action against the JRF Dr Sidhu had started finding fault with her in that regard.

The inaction on the part of the HoD had encouraged other JRFs to misbehave with her, she added.


Compassionate Recruitments
State govt to clear all pending cases
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
The Punjab Government has decided to clear all pending cases of the dependents of deceased teachers and others employees of the State Education Department for recruitment on compassionate ground.

Disclosing this here today, Dr Upinderjit Kaur, education minister, said that she had fulfilled the promise made to the teachers to initiate fresh recruitment and promotion processes and to provide jobs on a priority basis to the dependents of departmental employees, who died in harness.

She was speaking after handing over appointment letters to 41 persons, who were employed on compassionate grounds, in a function held here today. The beneficiaries, who got appointment letters, included six teachers, 32 clerks and three peons.

She advised the genuine beneficiaries to assist the department in completing their cases and submit the required documents to the directorate at the earliest.

She further added that directions had been issued to the officers concerned of the department to expedite all pending cases so that the affected families get the benefit of employment at the earliest.


Govt has to mobilise Rs 2,000 crore
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
Official estimates say the SAD- BJP government in Punjab will need Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 crore in coming five years to fund development plans in the state.

It means the state needs to mobilise Rs 2,000 crore resources to maintain tempo of development during coming five years.

The coordination committee of the SAD-BJP combine, engaged in resolving the resource mobilisation puzzle, for two months, will meet again on December 14 here where officers of the Finance Department, Excise and Taxation Department and chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh would be present to present actual fiscal situation being faced by the state, scenario in coming weeks and means to tackle the same, it is learnt.

The government is facing problem in funding its Rs 3,700 crore core development plan. Sources said against the Rs 3,700 crore kept for core development plan, the government will be able to give maximum Rs 2,000 crore to fund it.

Otherwise, plan is of Rs 5,111 crore but certain part of it is met from dedicated funds meant for the PSEB and certain other departments.

It appears the state government will not be able to meet targeted revenue collection stated in the budget estimates by the end of this fiscal year.

There will be shortfall in the VAT collection which is pegged at Rs 5,778 crore in budget estimates.

“If tough measures are not taken now to check the evasion of VAT, there will be possible shortfall of Rs 500 crore in its collection by March 31”, said a senior officer.

And likewise, there will be huge shortfall in the stamp duty revenue that has been pegged at Rs 2,300 crore in the current year’s budget estimates.

Both VAT and stamp duty were projected as major sources of revenue in the budget estimates.Fall in the revenue from these sources will certainly make various budget estimates go haywire. It will lead to further revenue deficit as well as fiscal deficit.

“It will not be possible for the state government to mobilise Rs 2,000 crore in one go by administering heavy dose of taxes”, said a senior officer.

It will be advisable to withdraw certain freebies such as free power to farm sector and to impose taxes such as abiana, octroi( in some other form) and user- charges.

“Free power to farm sector is actually a destructive measure taken by the state government. It is negative subsidy that is causing loss to Punjab’s environment, subsoil water etc. Farmers should be given positive subsidy to generate additional resources to enhance their income such as for setting up dairy farms”, says a policy maker.

It will enable government to mobilise about Rs 1,300 crore. And some taxes can be imposed next year and the atta-dal scheme can be rationalised to reduce its burden on state exchequer.

Officers admit that vast number of families enrolled as beneficiaries under the “atta-dal” scheme are not entitled to be covered under the scheme.

There is need to set up strong monitoring mechanism to give the benefit to deserving beneficiaries and not to well -off people.

And the government must cut its expenditure. Without cutting expenditure, the levying of more taxes and waiving the freebies will not be morally justified.


Minister seeks CM help to save friend
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 12
Coming to the rescue of her family friend, who has been implicated in a “fake” case by the Gurdaspur police allegedly on the directions of a Cabinet minister of the SAD from Dhariwal, health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla has written to the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal seeking his intervention in the matter.

She was forced to write to Badal after her talks with the DIG, border range, and the IG, on the issue yielded no results. She has sought the removal of Gurdaspur SSP Lok Nath Angra for allegedly acting at the behest of the Akali minister.

According to sources, the health minister has complained to the Chief Minister against the DIG, border range, IG and the Gurdaspur SSP for allegedly harassing her family friend Sushil Kumar, who is owner of two petrol stations at Dhariwal, and implicating him in a false criminal case at the behest of the Akali minister.

The police had registered a case against Sushil and arrested him for allegedly snatching a truck. Moreover, it took Sushil handcuffed to the courts in violation of the Supreme Court directives.

The Akali minister has allegedly been harassing Sushil for he supported Sucha Singh Chhotepur, an independent candidate from Dhariwal Assembly constituency in the elections, the sources said.

The health minister admitted to having complained to the Chief Minister against the officials. Angra, however, denied to have received any call from Chawala or from the Akali minister. He said the owners of the filling station and the truck had an old dispute over money.

Sushil and his men forcibly took away the truck on December 6. After investigations by a DSP, the case had been registered against the suspects, he claimed.

The truck owner, Ashwani Kumar, a resident of Dhariwal, had filed a complaint against Sushil. Suresh Tejpal, a brother of Sushil, said the complainant had not made payments for the fuel he had been getting for his trucks for the past a year from their petrol station.


RMOs-docs gulf sinks health programmes
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Kharar, December 12
The implementation of national health programmes has become difficult in state due to lack of coordination between rural medical officers (RMOs) posted in villages and civil hospital doctors at district level.

As many as 1,193 rural medical officers, who fall under jurisdiction of zila parishads (ZP), are finding it increasingly difficult to coordinate with district-level health authorities in their respective areas.

Recruited under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), these doctors are answerable to zila parishads instead of the state health department.

Juggling with different departments and different ministries it is increasingly becoming difficult for them to implement national programmes like family planning, TB and HIV programme in a full-fledged manner.

These doctors are not even empowered to coordinate with paramedics like ANM nurses and midwives operating in same areas.

“In same geographic, a paramedic and an RMO have got targets for family planning programme within same limited population. This leads to commotion and unnecessary problems,” points out the president of RMOs Association, Dr Aslam Parvez.

Since the recruitment of these doctors, the OPD in rural dispensaries has increased by 7 to 8 per cent. Also these RMOs are responsible for 90 to 95 per cent of school health programmes. 


Rs 3.30-lakh number for Rs 7-lakh vehicle
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 12
Months before he bought a Safari Décor vehicle for more than Rs 7 lakh and waited to get registration number for it of choice- 0001.

Today he bought PB 13 S - 0001 number for Rs 3.30 lakh in an auction held at the district transport office here for the sale of fancy registration numbers of PB 13 S series. The reserve price of this number was Rs 50,000.

The man, who bought PB 13 S - 0001 number for his vehicle, is Karamjit Singh son of Rattan Singh of Andheri village, 2 km from here. He is an agriculturist.

This afternoon Karamjit Singh told The Tribune as he was determined to get 0001 number so he today purchased it for Rs 3.30 lakh.

According to the scheduled programme, the DTO here had to auction 118 numbers from 1 to 100 and 18 other numbers like 0111, 0222, 0999, 1111, 2222, 9999 today, but only 35 numbers were bought by vehicle owners.

Besides Karamjit Singh who bought 0001 number for Rs 3.30 lakh, Prem Kumar from Sangrur bought 0013 number for Rs 1 lakh against reserve price of Rs 3,000. Likewise, Charu Garg from Zira purchased 0002 number for Rs 76,000 against reserve price of Rs 10,000 and Harpal Kaur from Barnala bought 0031 number for Rs 50,000 against the reserve price of Rs 3,000.


Attackers take away victim’s body
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 12
Armed youths shot at an old man point-blank and whisked away his body in a car late this evening.

They came by two cars. The victim belonged to Hawas village.

The victim was identified as 65-year-old Bhupinder Singh, a farmer.

City SP Sajjan Singh Cheema said the victim had separated from his family.


Notice to Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh December 12
Taking up a petition challenging provisions of the Punjab tax on entry of goods into local areas Act, 2000, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab and other respondents.

The Bench, comprising Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, also fixed December 17 as the next date of hearing in the matter on the petition filed by Surya Pharmaceuticals of Banur in Patiala district.

Referring to a notification dated November 15, the petitioner claimed its implementation was leading to restriction on the trade, commerce and similar activities throughout the country.

Describing it as a "colourable" piece of legislation, the petitioner stated that following the notification, authorities have started charging tax whenever the goods are brought into Punjab.

Despite repeated requests against levying tax, the authorities are not letting the vehicles go without payment of tax.

Counsel for the petitioner Sandeep Goyal cited a number of judgements in an attempt to substantiate his contentions and sought directions for declaring the provisions of the Act void. 


Politics has no role in education: VC
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 12
“Only collective efforts sans any types of hierarchical differences of the main stakeholders- the faculty, students and the administrative staff in Punjabi University- can help achieve the target of its overall development."

Dr Jaspal Singh, vice-chancellor of Punjabi University, stated this while participating in the "Ardaas samagam", organised by the University Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee on the university campus here today.

"Punjabi University enjoys special status on the horizon of universities in the world. And my topmost priority will be to trigger its overall development so that it touches highest pinnacles of glory. While the main focus will be to further accelerate the multi-dimensional expansion and progress of Punjabi, as it was mandatory to Punjabi University for its laid down objectives. Efforts will also be made to provide every kind of impetus for the strengthening the professional and job-oriented courses,” said the vice-chancellor.

“We cannot afford to ignore newly emerging trends as globalisation, new information and media technology, and hi-tech management orientation to compete with the market forces the world over. This was also necessary to enable our students to match the skills of those studying in the best universities of the world and get best placements in best of the institutions," Dr Jaspal Singh said.

While categorically setting aside all speculations of showing special affiliations to any group and succumbing to any types of pressure, Dr Jaspal Singh said every decision will be taken after measuring the situation and giving it due consideration, keeping in mind the elements of judiciousness, fairness and objectivity. Education was a noble profession and as an educationist, primarily, my effort will be to maintain and sustain its sanctity. Politics, to my mind, has nothing to do with education, he said.

Punjabi University, Dr Singh said, would make best possible contribution to celebrate the 300th ‘Gurugadi Diwas’ of Guru Granth Sahib. Sikh scholar and musician Dr Gurnam Singh, head, Department of Gurmat Sangeet and his students performed Gurbani kirtan. Dr Paramvir Singh, president of the Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee introduced the vice-chancellor, while Dr S.S. Khaira, registrar was also present.


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